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Fight continuing for charter schools

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Sierra Tahoe Academy is attempting to become a charter school in Douglas County.

A governing body of seven Nevadans, including two Douglas County judges, are working on their application for a charter school after it was denied by the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees on Feb. 12.

The application was denied because it didn’t meet the state requirements for a non-at-risk charter school, said Roy Casey, assistant superintendent for the Douglas County School District.

“The reasons for the denial is because the application was incomplete and not in compliance,” Casey said. “What happened was after the application (was submitted) they changed their status to an at-risk charter school to a non-at-risk charter school. So therefore the application was no longer complete or in compliance.”

It’s not clear where the charter school’s learning centers will be, Casey said.

The governing board of Sierra Tahoe Academy previously did want the school to be an at-risk charter school. But during a meeting of the Nevada State Board of Education the requirements for an at-risk charter school were changed.

The governing board, therefore, decided to change the academy’s status.

One change set the percentage of students that would qualify a charter school to be considered at-risk, Casey said.

“Fifty-one percent of students must be at-risk,” Casey said. “They might be fearful that they couldn’t generate a majority of at-risk students.”

At the same time the governing board of the academy is applying to become a charter school in Douglas County, the board is also attempting to get another charter school, the Silver Sage Academy, in Clark County, Casey said.

Cheri Johnson, member of the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees, said she finds it interesting that the governing board is submitting charter school plans to two different counties. She is looking forward to seeing the new application.

“This is our first charter school application and we’re going to being making sure that the population of students will be well-served,” she said. “Those our are kids so it’s important to go over it with a fine-tooth comb.”

Charlie Lincoln, from Honor Schools, Inc., is volunteering to assist with the process of getting the two academies approved. For six years he has been involved with developing charter schools in California and Arizona.

Since Douglas County is allowed one non-at-risk charter school because the county is below 100,000 people, Lincoln would like to see the academy being that charter school.

Regarding the fast-growing Clark County, he said he sees an opportunity to build Silver Sage Academy.

“Our whole philosophy is to serve students not currently being served by the traditional public school system,” he said from Phoenix.

Tahoe Township Judge Richard Glasson is on the governing board along with 9th Judicial District Judge Michael Gibbons of Minden.

“We look forward to having the Sierra Tahoe Academy approved by the Douglas County school board,” he said.

The next step in the process is for the board of trustees to look over the new application during the March 12 meeting at Kingsbury Middle School.


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